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Lawmaker Urges Cola Tax

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Five years ago when federal officials launched an aggressive campaign against tobacco many convenience store operators wondered out loud what the next target would be.

Retailers finally got an answer yesterday as a California lawmaker proposed slapping a tax on popular soft drinks to help reduce childhood obesity, according to Reuters.

The bill proposed by state Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) would offer schools incentives to drop lucrative contracts to sell certain soda brands on their campuses. "'It is not my intention to demonize soda,'' Ortiz said in a statement, adding that moderate cola consumption was not harmful. "'The problem is that Americans have lost sight of moderation, and fail to recognize how many additional calories soda adds to their diets.'"

A number of U.S. states, including Arkansas, Virginia and Washington, currently impose excise taxes on soft drinks. But most use the proceeds to fight litter, not obesity in U.S. schools, the report said.

Ortiz's bill, due to be taken up by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 10, would charge manufacturers and distributors 21 cents per 1 gallon of bottled drinks and $2 per gallon of syrup used to create soft drinks in soda fountains.

Consumers could be expected to absorb the additional cost, about two cents per 12-ounce can. The bill would raise an estimated $342 million a year.
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